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US, UK Vow to Hold Perpetrators of Chemical Attacks in Syria Responsible

© AP Photo / Hassan AmmarPeople stand in front of damaged buildings, in the town of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack, near Damascus, Syria, Monday, April 16, 2018
People stand in front of damaged buildings, in the town of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack, near Damascus, Syria, Monday, April 16, 2018 - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States, United Kingdom and France said in a joint statement on 5 April that they are committed to holding the perpetrators of alleged chemical attacks in the Syrian towns of Duma and Khan Sheikhoun responsible for their actions.

On the anniversaries of two alleged chemical attacks in Syria, London, Paris and Washington again blamed the Syrian government for attacking its citizens and warned it against repeats.

"Two years on from the horrific chemical weapons attacks that took place in Khan Sheikhoun, and almost one year since the attack in Douma, we the United States, United Kingdom and France warn against, and remain firm in our resolve to respond appropriately to, any use of chemical weapons", the joint statement read.

The three stated that the Syrian government’s history of "repeatedly using chemical weapons against its own people cannot be disputed, and we remain determined to hold it accountable for indiscriminately killing innocent men, women and children with these heinous weapons".

"The OPCW’s [Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] Investigation and Identification Team will now work to identify the perpetrators of chemical weapons use in Syria, an important step in ensuring accountability", the statement said. "The United States, the United Kingdom and France reaffirm their strong resolve to work jointly in achieving this practical goal".

The joint statement has accused the Syrian government, but noted that it was shielded from being held immediately accountable for using chemical weapons, in particular in the UN Security Council, with the dismantling of the independent investigative mechanism designed to attribute responsibility for chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

"Responsible states have remained committed to upholding the prohibition against chemical weapons and ensuring that there will be no impunity for those who use, seek to use, or protect those who use these weapons, in particular by strengthening the OPCW", the statement said.

The statement comes after the OPCW published a report on 1 March on the results of its investigation of the Douma incident in which as it claims, a toxic chemical, most likely chlorine, was used.

This photo provided on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Civil Defense workers inspecting a damages building after a bombing that targeted the office of Ajnad al-Koukaz, a militant group consisting of foreign fighters mostly from the Caucuses and Russia, in Idlib, Syria - Sputnik International
Militants Preparing Staged Chemical Attacks in Idlib, Syria - Russia's UN Envoy
The Russian Foreign Ministry reacted on the matter by saying the OPCW had ignored the evidence provided by Russia and Syria, which confirmed that the attack had been staged by the White Helmets and expressed concern the document sought to justify foreign strikes against Syria.

Meanwhile, residents of Douma, interviewed by Sputnik, were unable to confirm that a chemical attack had taken place there. The residents said they knew nothing about such an attack and were not aware of anybody having been affected by toxic chemicals.

READ MORE: Paris Denies Involvement of Its Intelligence in Preparing Provocation in Idlib

A view of the town of Masyaf in Hama province, in Syria (File) - Sputnik International
Syria Militant Attack Leaves 21 Hospitalized With Poisoning Symptoms - Reports
The United States and its allies have repeatedly accused the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad developing toxic agents and applying them as weapons against the Syrian population without, though, providing any significant proof. Washington has accused Damascus of two allegedly chemical attacks in Douma in 2018 and in Khan Sheikhoun in 2017.

The Syrian government has denied the allegations and Syrian — as well as Russian — officials have said the incidents were likely staged to justify Western military intervention. Following the reports of the attack in Douma, the United States and its allies fired more than 100 missiles on what they claimed were Syrian government chemical weapons sites.

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